Rey T. Uy*
Reproductive health is a civil right. In a man’s point of view, it is not only a right but a huge responsibility to bear. It is in this premise that the state should take a serious stance on the issue of reproductive health. The growing nexus between a ballooning population and the dismal state of poverty in the Philippines should alarm us all - from government officials down to the ordinary folks. The waves of friendly and sometimes fiery debate between two opposing sides should not really be a force to divide us, rather it should help us dispel myths and advocate the truth.
The Reproductive Health Bill had been a very serious topic of national debate. It is just high time that we elevate the level of our intellectual discourse and come face-to-face with the issues at hand.
We can never get out from the picture of the looming state of poverty in the country. This is probably best explained by the growing number of our population and our inability to get the majority of them, most especially men, to be employed to support their respective families.
One of the current thrusts of my administration is to elevate the state of living of my constituents and to break the bonds of poverty—like many of our local chief executives’ dream for their people. To realize this, we took a bold step to materialize our aspirations.
In the City of Tagum, I am very proud to share that we have bannered a local reproductive health program that sets the balance between men’s and women’s right to a better reproductive health they rightfully deserve. We have been able to accommodate the desire of numerous men to submit themselves to a no-scalpel vasectomy for free, courtesy of the local government and the Marie Stopes Foundation, a civic society organization that supports this cause.
This has magnified the local government-CSO participation in championing this advocacy. It complements the free tubal ligation procedure offered to the women in our city who believed they had enough children. This is anchored on the premise that our actions should be proactive rather than reactive. By doing this program, we do not only grant their right to a better reproductive health but we are also doing our city, this country and this world a great favor.
The result of this program had been monumental. Our city was not included among the recipients of the current government’s Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (Conditional Cash Transfer) of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). The DSWD cited our low poverty incidence rate at 15.42%, as stipulated in the department’s National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction Program. The national poverty incidence rate is estimated around 27%.
This is another significant breakthrough for our city - thanks in part to our local reproductive health program. The substantial connection between reproductive health and poverty reduction is indeed very evident.
So what makes it successful by then? Two words: Political Will.
An approach that focuses on men as clients deals with the great need to provide men of their reproductive health services. But still many were not sold out to the idea of vasectomy, in our city’s case. The challenge is how do we make reproductive health services be palatable to men?
The answer is simple: we should emphasize men’s important role in ensuring wellness for themselves, their wives and their respective families. The government should be consistent and true in pioneering reproductive health services that focus on men. The interventions that involve men as agents of positive change, however, are relatively few. The state should increase men’s informed choices, their possibilities for learning and development, and the survival and well-being of family members.
The issue of reproductive health is a very sensitive issue, especially to the Roman Catholic Church. While many of the men in the pulpits would oppose the passage of the Reproductive Health Bill into a national law citing that the state cannot legislate morality, it is but right for the government to not be bullied by the church.
First, this bill seeks to uphold people’s right to reproductive health which will contribute to solve our problem on poverty—a thing that has not been either solved by the church. There is still a big room though to settle down things and build a consensus but both parties cannot deny that poverty is rising and time is ticking.
The shape of our future will depend heavily on the decisions we make and the action we are taking today. The time is now for us to be serious and get real.
Men, along with women, must work hand-in-hand to curse poverty through the implementation of a best reproductive health program. But I would like to put emphasis that above all parties involved, it should be the men who should take the first step towards the realization of this goal. That way, we will be able to ensure a better future for our children’s children and for the future generations.
* Hon. Rey Uy is the City Mayor of Tagum, Davao Del Norte, who is also the LCP’s Regional Representative for Region IX. For more information, contact Office of the City Mayor at (084) 217-3688 or (084) 218-1957.
** This article is first published in the Population Chronicle. Men and Reproductive Health, an LCP publication for the ongoing United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)-supported Reproductive Health and Commodity Security Project. The opinions expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views of LCP and UNFPA.
The League of Cities of the Philippines through its Secretariat is currently seeking (1) Content Writer and (1) Graphic Artist in the development of infographic materials on Solid Waste Management for Local Government Units.2013-03-01
Call for the submission of applications to the 2013 International Urban Training Center (IUTC) Training Coursesview all announcements